Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst behind one of the largest classified information leaks in U.S. history, was released from military prison at 2 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) Wednesday, Army Public Affairs Lt. Col. Jennifer R. Johnson told CNN. President Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in his final days in office in January.
In 2010, Private First Class Bradley Manning as he was then known, provided 700,000 military and State Department secret documents to WikiLeaks in the most sweeping breach of its kind in USA history. That decision angered national security experts who say Manning put USA lives at risk, but it won praise from transgender advocates who have embraced her transition to a female gender identity. Noting that she already had served more time than other government leakers, Obama told reporters he chose not to grant Manning a pardon because he was not forgiving her for the crime. Manning was imprisoned for one of the largest leaks of classified documents. She twice tried to commit suicide and faced long stretches of solitary confinement as well as denial of healthcare, Strangio said.
The US Army has previously confirmed Manning will remain an active duty soldier, although in an unpaid status.
Manning - known then as Bradley Manning - was sentenced to 35 years in prison on 20 counts, including violations of the Espionage Act.
"The Army has no choice" until still-unresolved appeals of her 2013 conviction run their course, said Eric L. Mayer, who practices military law in Overland Park but is not connected to the Manning case. She emerges from prison as one of the most high-profile transgender people in the country.
After the 2013 sentencing, the ex-intelligence agent changed her name to Chelsea Manning and became a transgender woman.More news: Leonard latest basketball player to deal with ankle injury
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"What we need is a strong unapologetic progressive to lead us", Manning wrote, addressing Trump's criticism on Twitter with "OK?" The Army also eventually allowed her to use makeup and receive hormone therapy. But they denied a plea to let her grow out her hair, which, according to photos posted on the GoFundMe site, remains trimmed into a side-swept, masculine cut.
Manning's attorneys disclosed in September that she had been approved for gender reassignment surgery.
Manning also will be able to live where she wants. The Department of Defense has repeatedly declined to discuss Manning's treatment in prison.
"I personally would love for Chelsea to sit on a beach for a month and sip whatever drinks she likes to sip and relax", said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, a digital rights organization, who has been helping to raise money for Manning's return.
"I want people to see the truth. because without information, you can not make informed decisions as a public", she confided in online chats with a former hacker who reported her to authorities.